After Saturday night's season-finale 1-0 victory over the playoff-bound, seemingly apathetic Capitals at a sold-out BankAtlantic Center, the Panthers took their jerseys off and gave them out to fans who bid on them in a charity auction. Several of those Panthers won't be getting them back. Just as he has done during his four-year stint in South Florida, goalie Tomas Vokoun — the most prominent pending free agent not likely to return — kept the game close for his offensively challenged teammates until Bill Thomas batted the puck out of the air. It dribbled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth with 6:05 left in the game. The Panthers' first victory since a 4-0 win over Toronto on March 17 snapped a 10-game losing streak, their longest since a 12-game slide in 2005, and mercifully ended their season at 30-40-12. The 72 points is their lowest output since finishing with 70 in the 2002-03 season, but it did guarantee the Panthers of landing at least a top-four draft pick this June. "If we could have a game that sums up our season this would be it,'' said Panthers coach Pete DeBoer. "A one-goal game, [David] Booth misses an empty net standing in the crease … the inability to get more than one or two goals, the reliance on great goaltending in order to find wins. "I'm sure in the back of his mind, he's wondering if it was his last game here. … If he's not, it was a fitting way to end his time in Florida here.'' Vokoun, who hadn't started since March 27 due to a back ailment, had 28 saves and notched his sixth shutout of the season, 44th of his career, including 23 with Florida. "I'm happy for everybody. We ended that losing streak. We can go on a note we start fresh, whoever [here's] next year,'' said an emotional Vokoun, who after being mobbed by his teammates, handed his goalie stick to a fan.
Tomas Vokoun leads Panthers to season-ending 1-0 win over Caps
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 10